SensorPedia, a writeable Website in development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, solves a huge problem by giving emergency responders and decision-makers access to data from diverse sensor networks in near real time.
Bryan Gorman of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division notes that today's systems of sensors that can detect radiation, chemicals and biological agents are of limited use because there is no clear-cut standard to allow the systems to share data.
"While scores of sensors are being deployed around the nation, these sensor networks are not designed to be interoperable, meaning that they do not communicate with each other," Gorman said. "Our system simplifies sensor information sharing while preserving the integrity, security and authenticity of sensor information."
Rather than attempting to get everyone to adopt one standard, as its name suggests, SensorPedia adopts the underlying technology of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia collaboratively written by readers, as a model.
SensorPedia, however, is different from Wikipedia in three ways. The ORNL implementation of SensorPedia will link to near-real-time data, which will provide streaming of data; SensorPedia will support interactive "mashups" of information; and only approved personnel will be authorized to write to the SensorPedia Web site.
Gorman, who leads the ORNL team that is developing the concept, said SensorPedia will be used initially within the federal government. The site will be hosted on a wiki-enabled ORNL server that can support the established credentialing and authentication control.
Acceptance should not be an issue because SensorPedia is merely an adaptation of tools and resources that already exist.
"We like to say that we're paving the cow paths," Gorman said. "We are simply leveraging key standards and principles already widely accepted and in use."
Ultimately, SensorPedia could play a key role in the never-ending mission to detect and respond to emergent threats. The government response of deploying sensor networks is a vital part of the solution; however, without what Gorman refers to as interoperability, the system cannot be highly effective.
Other developers of SensorPedia include Ron Lee, David Resseguie, Johnny Tolliver and Edmon Begoli of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division.
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